Oil prices stay below $90

Oil prices stay below $90

Singapore: Oil prices were up in Asia trade Monday but remained below the 90-dollar level on hopes that OPEC may decide to raise output at a meeting this week, dealers said.

In early morning trade New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, was 84 cents higher at $89.55 a barrel from $88.71 in late US trades Friday.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery rose 88 cents to $89.04 a barrel.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is meeting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, has refused to confirm a production increase but the market is betting on the cartel moving in that direction.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said last week the market was well supplied and that the recent spike in oil prices to an all-time high of $99.29 last month did not reflect supply and demand.

“There is still quite a bit of uncertainty as to what OPEC will do on Wednesday when they meet in Abu Dhabi but the market has already priced in an expected boost in production," said Victor Shum of energy consultancy Purvin and Gertz.

With oil prices now off their peak, the political pressure on OPEC to raise its output has eased considerably, said Shum.

OPEC last decided to raise production in September when it agreed to provide an extra 500,000 barrels a day to the market from 1 November.

The oil cartel, which accounts for roughly 40% of the world’s crude output, has said it has no control over oil prices.